Girls in IT: to be or not to be?

Author: Bekhzod Umarov

March 5, 2023
Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Under-Secretary-General of the UN Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said that today, and every day, we recognize that digital power must be in the hands of girls. “We have a unique window and momentum now to secure bold commitments that will ensure girls are connected and empowered to create the brighter futures the world needs”.

Meet our heroine: Dilsuz Djonisokova is from Navoi region. Dilsuz is a third-year student of the Navoi State Pedagogical Institute with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. She is the eldest of three children in the family. She showed an early interest in studying information technology, won prizes in regional school olympiads in computer science, and her parents supported her hobby. She chose front-end development, or website interface development, as her main focus, and despite the difficulties in the learning process, she was able to overcome these difficulties. However, due to the lack of experience, which is the main criterion for hiring for a good job, like hundreds of her peers, she did not have the opportunity to find a job in order to accumulate the necessary experience.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

"I found out about the Digital Internship programme through social networks. The advertisement was about an intensive short-term Information Technology (IT) internship for young girls and women, and therefore I became interested. I registered and applied", Dilsuz says.

In total, more than 250 girls registered for the program, of which 136 participants passed the first stage – testing. The second stage was a technical interview, and the 53 girls that were able to pass it successfully, got the opportunity to do internship in such IT-companies as EPAM, TechCells, Scientech Solution, PlusSoft, Nextin studio, SIROCA TECH, MarssTeam, GoodOne, Velvet, Broject, Devops, Ongila, R2 TECHNOLOGY, Advantour, PayWay, Automation source, BePro Norm, Newtec, IT Academy Navoi.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

"The internship process was amazing. I was glad to have had the opportunity to do an internship at an educational training center for IT professions, and most importantly in my region. I was very well received by the employees of the company where I got the internship. There are a lot of young people working here, a lot of women and girls. I really liked the friendly atmosphere," our heroine shares her impressions with us.

The internship programme included two stages: the selection of participants and a monthly internship. With positive results of the internship, they could get the right to pursue employment opportunities in the companies where they were trained, or in other companies recommended by IT Park. During the internship, 53 girls from different regions of Uzbekistan improved their digital skills. As a result of the internship programme, 23 girls got a job, and the rest were able to extend their internships in companies.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

As the curator of the Digital Internship programme Muyassar Shermatova noted: "Many people say that IT is not for girls, but it’s not. I can personally be an example. Currently, the professions of the digital sector are considered one of the most prestigious and wanted – the demand for technical specialists is constantly growing. However, there are significantly more men in the field of IT in Uzbekistan. There are many barriers and stereotypes about girls and technologies in people’s heads: from “it’s difficult, it requires a special mindset” to “it’s not a woman’s job.” Our project in support of girls who see themselves in IT sector aims to help break these stereotypes, preventing many girls from starting a career in IT, as well as guide them where exactly to move in order to build their own path".

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

During her internship, Dilsuz gained experience through hands-on website development assignments and was able to prove herself. Thanks to this, the head of the company offered her a job as an instructor at an educational center in front-end development courses.

“I currently teach at an IT training center. I have a lot of dreams related to IT, for example, I want to help people grow and find allies with whom I could open a website development company, and with its help we could go to international markets and create complex successful projects. It's so convenient and makes it possible to be mobile and work from anywhere in the world – all you need is a computer and an Internet connection. I wish other girls who have chosen the IT field to become good specialists in their field – and prove everyone who doubted them wrong. This requires learning and moving forward non-stop until the goal is achieved. The most important thing is to believe in your goals and dreams and work towards achieving them. I would like to see more programmes like Digital Internship, because thanks to them we can believe and fulfill our dreams".

Digital Internship Programme - an intensive short-term internship programme for young women. The internship was aimed at female graduates of IT or related technical fields of institutions of higher education such as Inha, Amity, TUIT, Yeoju, Turin and others, or young women entry-level professionals. The programme was divided into two stages: selection of participants and a monthly internship. With the positive results of the internship, the participants received the right to further employment in the companies where they interned or other companies recommended by IT Park. Digital Intership Programme (DIP) was implemented by IT Park, the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).